How To Flex Your Stick (And How To Shoot Harder)
Updated: Aug 1, 2019
It’s a little-known secret that the puck flexes the stick.
Yes, the ice also flexes your stick. But with today’s sticks, almost every shot, pass, and stickhandle results in stick flex.
When you understand this key distinction – you can actually leverage your stick to its full potential. And then you can stop wasting your effort on power bleeding mechanics (like leaning on your stick).
It helps to know the situations where the puck flexes the stick. And distinguish when the ice also flexes the stick.
The saucer pass and shot share similar mechanics. In particular, the puck follows the same blade rhythm: It moves heel to toe.
To dial-up power, today’s shooter can do three things:
Move the pivot point forward
Generate more rotation
Use ice to create stick flex
Moving the pivot point forward means that the stick’s force producing part of the lever has a large range of motion. Thus can generate more power (since power = force x velocity and velocity = speed/distance). You can see how the pivot point is closer to the body with a saucer pass, but with a shot, the pivot point gets moved further ahead of the body along for the pulling hand to pull for a longer distance.
I mention that a shot is not a translation. Like a two foot broad jump. People who focus on weight transfer as THE variable get this part wrong. Instead, the shot is a rotation skill. Like tennis, baseball, and javelin. Adding rotation by arranging your feet so that your hips turn adds more power. With a rotation, think of it as increasing the length of your lever. It also increases the force end of this equation because force production that starts near your centre (core) compounds as it travels down the kinetic chain.
Here we see MacKinnon using almost no rotation. Just a push – pull lever motion. In comparison, notice how much rotation Laine gets.
The ice does generate stick flex. It’s sort of like pushing a bendy 4.5 ft bamboo rod through a 4 ft window. You push the rod forward. (Credit to Jeremy Rupke for this analogy). Player mess this up when they think they need to push down into the ice. The real way that you increase the flex of the stick is to make the window smaller by tipping your hips and tilting your shoulders. I understand why people call this “leaning on your stick” because that’s what it looks like. This is an illusion similar to the “Toe Off illusion.”
Understand that the there is a Power – Quickness Tradeoff. Going back to the MacKinnon vs Laine comparisons, you see that MacKinnon releases the puck quicker but with less power. Vice versa for Laine. But you do see that MacKinnon still gets stick flex! That’s just the nature of sticks today.
It helps to understand this distinction so that you avoid doing something that bleeds your power, balance, and quick release.
Some say that every skill you add to your talent stack roughly doubles your odds of success. Hockey is about being adaptable to situations. And the more tools you have, the more situations you dominate.
Learn how to dial your power up and down while maintaining the mechanics of shooting Wizards. You do this by understanding the mechanical principles that lead to more shot power.
If you’d like to learn this step-by-step, I’ll tell you how I structure this in the Shooting Mastery Course and with my coaching clients:
We start by feeling the movement principles of the Hip Engine, the Inner Spring, and Tipped hips, and the Kinetic Chain. This is without a puck and stick. It’s just about feeeeeeeeel.
Then we add the stick back in and start to play with the idea of leverage. How to position your body, your feet, your hands for maximum stick leverage.
Then we add the puck back in – and cover basic drills that incorporate the movement principles. We keep the demands low so that the player focuses on the feeling.
As the player hones in on the right feeling of the movement principles, we add more game specific footwork and movement patterns.
Then we create the NeuroLinks so that players identify when to use their new mechanics to exploit opportunities and get results.
That’s how I approach it. I’d love to hear how this goes for you.